That’s the thing, it has to be what they want too, right?
I remember back in around 2015, I was working as a volunteer manager in the London Borough of Newham one of the most economically deprived and inactive (in terms of civic participation) boroughs in the country.
My job was to get people excited and involved in the London 2012 Olympics…even though it was years away.
I had to sell them the dream, and sell them the dream I did.
But then I ended up in this meeting in City Hall, or Canary Wharf a few months later where the following question was possed.
“How are we going to get 70,000 people to work for free during gamestime?”
And I knew in that moment that I needed to be part of this conversation moving forward….and a few months later I quit my job and applied for one as a policy manager working on London 2012.
It wasn’t about getting people to give up anything, or do anything for FREE…the energy of that was all wrong.
This was an opportunity like no other.
It was about getting clear on what the value was to be involved in this once in a lifetime global event, and to set to work on communicating that.
The question wasn’t about getting just 70K people…it was about getting the right 70K people.
I wanted to ensure MY volunteers from the London Borough of Newham, with their different colour skins, their diverse languages and cultural backgrounds, the ones who were currently out of work, low skilled, lacking in confidence, the teenagers, the retired, the ones with learning difficulties….they were the ones I wanted to see featured on the news…they were the ones I wanted to see in their new uniforms, meeting celebrities and collecting pin badges.
Not just the well off sports fanatics from outside of London, who would probably pay for (and be able to pay for) the opportunity.
I wanted this to be an opportunity of a lifetime for EVERYONE
And boy oh boy it was.
But there was some convincing to be done for sure, and when I look back now at the strategies that I used to help with that, in light of what I now do online.
So here are my top tips for getting people to do things they might not initially want to do….you know, buy your thing, sign up to your newsletter, come to your event.
Make it be about them not you
You have to help folks understand what they are getting out of the deal…the free uniform and the Oyster card was enough for some, for others they needed to understand the true transformation that would happen if only they allowed it to.
I had to help them imagine this new world, I had to help them understand the place they would be playing in history, and what an honour it would be to take part…to do their bit.
In a business context, this is about showing the benefits and the features AND the added value of the experience…the WHY it matters, YES show them why it matters to them…but show them why it should/could matter to them too.
70,000 volunteer placements was a lot, but not when you realised how many folks would actually want to be involved. I had to illustrate to my local volunteers that they would have to up their game, they would have to improve their skills, their experience, their passion for the role. If there are 30 places on your thing…make every one feel special…and be certain that you will sell out, so people feel compelled to claim their space. You want to be oversubscribed…ALWAYS.
In a business context, let people know the perimeters there is a big difference between being in an online programme with 7 people, and with 50…the energy is different. Show people what they are signing up for.
Go the added mile…give bonuses
I took a group of 60 of my volunteers to a rehearsal of the opening ceremony. It was one of those moments in life where I knew I had done some good in the world…those individuals will remember that evening for the rest of their lives. I also got to take a team to watch a West Ham match…they lost, so we won’t talk about that.
Don’t be lazy, think about the perks you can give people, the moments of collective experience…make sure your thing is brilliant and impactful and worth of folks getting excited about.
In a business context…don’t shove any old shit into your offering and call it a bonus…a bonus is not really a bonus if it takes my time, isn’t that good, and makes me feel crappy that I haven’t utilised it.
For the past 2 years I have been helping small business owners grow profitable and engaged communities around their businesses, one of the ways I do that is through a group programme called One to Many...
Last week a client posted in the group, “I’ve launched my thing…and guess what? They are ACTUALLY doing what I’m telling them”
I tell ya it’s like magic.
As business owners, leaders, influencers…we have to lead, we have to get people to take action, we have to engage them with our ideas, our concepts, our thought leadership.
Thats our job.
Starting this Friday I am running a 31 day challenge to help small business owners kick start their Tribe Building efforts. For the Month of May 100 of us will go out into the world like an army…spreading the word, changing lives, attracting the right folks into our lives.
This is not a “how to use social media” course, this is a how to influence and encourage people to take action, how to engage and grow your audience, how to show up consistently as a leader.
Sign up before 6pm tomorrow (Thursday 30th) to get the earlybird
Julie Creffield is a community engagement strategist and business mentor. This year she has worked with more than 300 small business owners, coaches and entrepreneurs to grow their audiences and make more money.
I am a massive believer in taking inspired action.
In not having to have complete evidence that things will be a success before investing my time and money in them.
Because I know myself.
I can create magic, I can create traction, I can make shit happen…I’ve been doing this my whole life.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t have my wobbles, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to put in a bit of graft, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to put enormous trust in the fact that I am also supported by forces outside of myself, and that ultimately everything will work out as it was supposed to.
But the build it and they will come approach to business is still a little flawed in my view.
I think it sets some people up to fail…and can leave some folks with feelings of being cheated, and not feeling good enough.
The phrase also feels like it should have come from one of the great philosophers, but instead, the quote is actually “If you build it, he will come.” and comes from a baseball movie with Kevin Costner from 1989 called “Field of dreams”.
As entreprenurs our businesses are our field of dreams, they allow us to create what we couldn’t find from a more traditional line of work, they allow us freedom, choice, expansion and maybe even the control that we desire.
But that comes at a price too.
We often work longer hours than our employed friends, we have less paid holiday, less benefits, and can even appear flaky or work shy to others, my Mum has only just stopped asking me,
“Julie, when are you going to get a proper job”
But here’s the problem I see with build it and they will come.
I see so many people throw a heap of time and money, and sometimes both into building businesses that nobody wants or maybe understands.
People want them, but just not in their current format.
The person behind the business doesn’t believe in it fully themselves and lose their nerve half way through the process.
Or runs out of steam because it takes too long, and not the 6 weeks the internet marketing person told them it would.
I am a believer in thinking BIG.
7 years ago I walked into a business advice service here in East London and I declaired,
“I want to turn my running blog into a coaching business, and help 1 million women feel better about themselves”
The business advisor, didn’t quite know what to do with me.
My goal was huge, and I didn’t know how I was going to get there. He was very dismissive, told me nobody pays for blogs, and sent me off with a very flaky business plan for selling funny slogan tshirts.
But with my business plan in hand I approached the jobcentre for a loan and my business Too Fat to Run was born….AND yes I did sell Tshirts, there are women in more than 40 countries worldwide proudly wearing my slogan tshirts, vests and hoodies, and in fact that marketing tactic helped me get my brand in front of an estimated 50 million women worldwide.
But it wasn’t an overnight success, nothing was…and if I am being honest the first few years were hell. I didn’t have a business coach, I was juggling the business with having a tiny baby at home fulltime (now I have a 7 year old instead at home ha ha) and I had to graft for every single client.
I know better now.
I’ve made all my mistakes.
I’ve tried ALL the tactics…I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and yes I’d probably do a lot of things differently.
Vision is great, but it’s not enough.
Having belief is good…but that’s not enough either, cos bloody hell does that get tested over time.
What I now know to be true is that we can not work on building empires by ourselves, if we are to build stadiums we must also build tribes, and if we are to build tribes then we need to build support networks and teams toi support us while we do it.
Having an inner circle while you are birthing something is what keeps us sane, it’s what helps us to prove concept, fine tune our ideas, see things that are so apparent but we are too close to them.
Having an inner circle allows us to be vulnerable and accept out flaws, and the gaps in our expertise…but it also allows us to truly see our own greatness in ways we can’t see by ourselves.
It’s why I love running group programmes, it’s why I love building community.
Over the past decade I have worked with more than 20K people in one of my online group programmes.
Over the past 2 decades I have worked on, designed, created and facilitated programmes that have impacted on millions of lives worldwide
I am an expert community engagement strategist and business mentor, I help my clients to activate their dreams and activate their network to help them build their dreams from the bottom up.
I work with change makers and community builders who care about people, and don’t just see them as a paycheck. I work with clients who see the value in doing their work in groups, not because its easier or more profitable but because its adds a magic that can’t be found in working one to one.
You don’t have to do it yourself
DIY in the house is a ball ache, so why would it be fun in your business?
You don’t have to put in ALL of the graft, ALL of the energy, ALL of the ideas…let others pick up some of the load
Build yourself up and surround yourself with the right people and they will come…thats what Kevin should have said.
And they will, and they did, and they do.
Now let’s get building.
Julie Creffield is an Engagement Strategist & Business Mentor from East London who helps her clients create businesses that get full attention in the world, creating programmes that engage and communities that thrive.
The doors are now open for the May cohort of One to Many, her 8 week incubator that helps experts to take their genius online to the masses using a group programme model.
“Money, Money, Money…must be funny in a rich mans world”
“Money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round”
“Mo money, Mo Problems”
No this is not my current soundtrack while on lockdown, I was just thinking about how money, and the topic of money is everywhere in our culture, and how we pick up negative money mindset shit really early in life.
“Money ain’t grown on trees you know?” erm it kinda is
“Who’s going to pay for that?” felt like the soundtrack of my life growing up thats for sure.
I couldn’t wait to grow up and make my own money.
Aged 12 I was babysitting for family…saving for a Gameboy…£10 per night
Aged 13 I walked into my local Wimpy and asked if I could wash dishes….£1.50 per hour (I know right???)
Aged 16 I was working in my local theatre as an usher… £12 a shift I think that was
Aged 19 I was working 16 hour shifts in a salad factory to fund my way through Uni….£16 per hour on a Sunday when they paid double pay (result)
Working to make enough money was a driving feature of my move into adulthood. But when my career progression led to pay rises, and the trappings of success…a lot of my poor money mindset issues came with me.
And so in 2014 when my plus size fitness business started to get traction I knew I needed to get more comfortable with having money, talking about money, and investing my money.
I have had a money mindset coach ever since…and I am doing the work all of the time.
I talk about money a lot.
I reckon it turns a lot of people off, and I’m OK with that.
“I just want to help people” I hear some small business owners say…but trust me it’s very hard to help others when you are so burned out, and are worrying about how to pay your bills…I know cos I’ve been there.
And one of the things I’ve come to understand is that my impact on this planet is in direct correlation with my income…yep I’ll say that again for those who were not listening at the back.
“My impact on this planet is in direct correlation with my income”
And yes that might sound like I am blowing my own trumpet and that you can’t have an impact if you are on a smaller income…you absolutely can. I just know I have a lot more things I want to do while I am still alive and many of those require having the resources to turn them into a reality.
Today 50 small business owners are embarking on a new adventure with me…around half of them have done one of my online challenges or programmes before, but the other half are completely new and don’t yet know what they are letting themselves in for.
We are all on a mission to generate sales from our existing expertise and networks over the next 10 days.
We are each setting an income target
And we will hold each other accountable.
Having a safe space online to talk about income goals and targets without the fear of judgement is so important.
The world is still turning.
And plenty of big businesses are still earning.
Oooohhh that rhymed.
So come and join us. Today is intro day…over the weekend folks get clear on what they want to sell and then on Monday the real work starts.
Want in for just £49???
Yep you read that right, for less than the price of a meal for two out (remember those???) you get 10 days of inspiration, motivation and the support of a kick arse business coach to help you get out of your own way when it comes to selling.
I went to the supermarket yesterday and had a bit of a panic attack.
I’m shopping for my sister who has broken her ankle as well as for me and my 7-year-old daughter, and each weekly trip seems to get harder and harder.
I had a list.
I had psyched myself up to get in and out, my store has all of the safety procedures and yet still the moment I stepped inside my anxiety levels shot through the roof.
Speaking to a friend last night about it I realised I felt embarrassed, because it seems soooo silly…scared to go to got food shopping, and she kindly reminded me that “Fear is not rational”
There is obviously a lot of fear around at the moment.
And in normal circumstances, I love nothing more than exploring and playing around with my fears. In fact in many of my motivational talks I often say “I think its about time we talked about the F word”
I talk about how I have often used fear as a way of fuelling my adventures, and how when you learn to harness and sit with your fears they can actually be quite helpful.
6 marathons run
3 Triathlons completed
2 mountains climbed
A TEDx Talk
Becoming a single parent
There always lessons to be had from “Feeling the Fear and doing it anyway” in fact in the first cohort of my One to Many programme along with some course materials, I also sent one of Susan Jeffers little books on the topic to my clients.
But what about now?
How do we move forward as business owners navigating fear, the old and established ones and the new ones?
How do we move forward when we at times feel paralysed?
How do we maintain our playful, explorative attitude as entrepreneurs when there feels like there is so much at stake?
Everything has changed?
But has it really?
I am hearing a lot of hard and fast statements at the moment that are based on a fear response.
“Nobody has any money”
“People just ain’t buying right now”
“Nobody has time for that”
“It’s too hard to sell right now”
“I can’t do it”
And I get it, because I have moments like that too.
But we do have to pivot…not necessarily our business (although some might have to) but our thought processes, and the way we look at things.
Yes, maybe people are being more careful with their money. Maybe peoples buying habits have changed. Maybe products and services that were once seen as a luxury won’t be as popular…but remember nothing ever stays the same anyway.
It is our ability to move with the times and be flexible as business owners that keeps us in business.
But how to price my thing?
That is the question I am being asked more than any other right now….along with “what platform should I use to host my course?” and trust me that one there is simply the wrong question to be asking.
But the price one is simple.
Do the maths, how much do you want or need to make, what do you have that people need right now, and how many people do you think you could get your thing in front of and persuade them to buy?
Then it’s time to get creative.
But the worst thing you can do is watch to see what your competitors or peers are charging.
Pricing is an energetic thing, yes it has something to do with value…but value is perceived and not real anyway, so yes what you charge is completely a made up thing.
I have sold online programmes for £5 that have transformed someones life beyond recognition, and sold £3000 programmes that have done the same, but in a different way.
I knew when this crisis hit I would need to come up with a framework for assessing what to sell and why…I knew I would need to continue charging for my services, but I also knew I wanted to do this in an ethical way.
And so I developed something called the Triangle of Need….which when layered over the top of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, it builds up a pretty compelling way of assessing opportunities.
The premise is simple.
What do you need
What do they need (your clients, your followers, your tribe)
What does the world need (can I help in a bigger more meaningful way?)
On Thursday (tomorrow) I am running a FREE workshop to help small business owners in my network get their head around their own pricing issues and concerns right now.
I will be sharing my observations of what seems to be working in the online space right now, but this is also based on being in this space for the past 10 years.
I will share my “No brainer” pricing strategy guidelines, and answering questions live.
In normal circumstances I always get my clients to test the market, to pilot programmes, test different price points for their services, be creative in their offerings, to allow folks to meet them where they are…but I can’t deny that there is a sense of urgency, and a feeling of wanting to get things right.
Why the free workshop?
Firstly because after using my Triangle of Needs concept to get clear on my business strategy, I had a great month of sales last month, which means that I am now in a better place to serve and be helpful.
The online space is a crowded one and I know just how important building your tribe is….and price is the one thing my people seem to be struggling with, and so I know this workshop will help.
Is there an upsell?
There always is. Nobody ever does anything for free without there being some kind of payback…even if that payback is ego driven, or about driving traffic or thank yous their way.
I just have the balls to be transparent about mine.
Starting next Friday I am running my 10 day Grand in Your Hand Challenge, a mini-course that more than 250 small business owners have been through, making hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process, and helping many business owners to expand their offerings and try new things.
It costs just £49 but participants in previous rounds say it is worth much more than that.
Why is it not FREE?
Because people don’t value free…and free doesn’t feel good to me either as a single parent, and as someone who has spent the last 10 years investing heavily in her business and expertise.
Pricing and sales don’t need to be scary.
It is just about finding coping strategies to get you through the uncomfortable bits, until those bits no longer feel uncomfortable. There is always a solution, always a way of doing things with less sleaze and more ease.
I’m not sure anyone ever fully understands the responsibility that comes with gathering people together…especially on masse.
Some of us love nothing more than creating opportunities for people to connect online and off, and even when the world is not in complete chaos these gatherings even then can test out leadership abilities, and at times challenge our values, our ethics and our boundaries.
I have been gathering people together for as long as I can remember….22 years last time I tallied it up….,starting my career as an arts practitioner bringing communities together to figure stuff out.
And I now?
Now I help small business owners attract folks towards them on masse, to build tribes of loyal followers, fans and of course paying customers….I mean that’s the dream right to have a TRIBE.
And as Seth Godin Mr Tribe himself said…“We need you to lead us”
Gosh ain’t that the truth.
The last 30 days have been fascinating for me. And oh so meta. In February I opened up a programme for small business owners called One to Many…taking them through the design, creation, selling and facilitation of their online group offerings.
For the past 14 months I have also been running an online incubator called Tribe Builder, where at any given time I can have 20-30 small business owners working on growing their community.
So when the shit hit the fan around 20 days ago like most of us I was like,
HOLY FUCK, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
What does it mean for me and my daughter?
What does it mean for my wider family, and my friends?
What does it mean for my clients?
What does it mean for my communities?
What does it mean for the world?
And then came the noise….and the noise hasn’t stopped, and it probably won’t for a while.
The interesting thing about whats going on right now, is unlike other crisis moments I’ve had in my communities, this time I’m in amongst it with my people. We are all going through this shit together.
Normally as a leader, or an expert or a coach you have a head start.
You are a few steps ahead of your clients and are able to support them without taking too much of your energy.
But now…we are juggling our own shit, as well as stepping up to hold space for our clients and networks. Even if we have skills and experience which on paper says we should be better at coping.
Today we are two weeks into homeschooling here in the UK, I have a lively 7 year old at home, and it became very apparent in the first week, that we would be “homecoping” rather than doing any of the stuff I saw other parents doing online (no judgement btw)
I am a single parent and I have multiple businesses to keep afloat, and anyone who knows Rose knows she is a strong personality, who needs a lot of attention. And so for all of our sanity, our days have been a mish mash of projects, lengthy conversations, her helping me out with stuff at home, cuddles on the sofa, movies and ipad time.
We seem to be coping OK. I thought I was coping OK. I guess none of us really know.
Last week I came off one of my group calls…it was a good group call, lots of ideas, and energy and laughter…nothing too deep or challenging, but when I closed down my lap top and went to the kitchen to make a cuppa…my legs wouldn’t work.
I thought maybe I was just hungry, but that wasn’t it. I was exhausted. Like dead tired. But I was also buzzing…like how I feel when I come off the stage after a big talk. Adrenaline was pumping round my body and it all felt rather scary.
When you hold space for others you take on their energy. You might not think you do but you do. We are all holding space for each other in a way which is sometimes challenging to unload from in the normal ways.
And this is why I am writing this post today, rather than cracking on with anything else on my todo list.
We must protect ourselves and look after our own needs too…I could throw a heap of overused metaphors about cups and masks but instead I will give you my top 5 tips for tribe leadership in these challenging times…(but also for all times)
Put your needs first – If you are worrying about paying your mortgage, or your health, or the health of your loved ones, honour that. Feel those fears, allow yourself to acknowledge them. You are not selfish or dramatic for thinking of you first. Take the time and space to consider what your basic needs are…once they are sorted you will have more capacity to give from a place of abundance, without being clouded with negative thoughts of lack and overwhelm.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable – Yes our clients, fans and followers are looking for leadership, calm and hope from us. But they also need us to show our human side. It’s OK to say you are frightened, or unsure of what to do next. It is OK to ask for help and support from them, in terms of ideas and kind words and even capacity to help in a practical way. When you have a true community around your business, you are part of their life and they will want to support you, just as you have supported them.
Have your own support network outside of your community – I am so lucky to have a brilliant network of peers, colleagues and friends, many of whom are therapists, healers, and good eggs (my term for people who are just fab). Don’t be afraid to ask for help…I did after my issue earlier this week, and a lovely friend, grief coach and homeopath did an emergency late night session to help me get grounded again. I have also had wonderful support from my sister, and many of my friends, clients and wider network.
Find ways to stay grounded – Many of us are juggling multiple priorities now, and are busier than ever, despite having so many restrictions placed on us. Many of us are running on adrenaline and jumping from online thing to online thing…added to that the emotions provoked by the news, social media reports, mass gatherings (ie the NHS clapping) and daily walks etc. Have a handful of strategies that get you out of your head and into your body, and connected to where your strength lies. For me this is exercise, having a physical space alone for a bit (my balcony is proving invaluable) but also meditation, breathing, reading and fresh foods. If you struggle to find this inner peace…pay a professional to help you…this is the stuff they do day in and day out, and I’d be happy to recommend some great practitioners.
Take time off or away – You do not need to be available for clients 24 hours a day. In fact some of your clients will feel a pressure to stay in your programme when really they would prefer to opt out. I have decided to press pause on one of my programmes altogether, and to outsource the majority of support to another one by paying freelancers to keep things going. I am also getting better at maintaining boundaries around how clients can contact me and when, and I am taking more time off than normal. There are no rules around this…do what feels right for you, as this will model good practice to your clients too. Taking time away is not flakey or unprofessional…as small business owners we often don’t have a HR department to seek sick leave from.
I want to finish off by saying, I have been hugely inspired, humbled and energised by my tribes. Keeping things going and even building new ones during this time has been energising and gives me hope that we will all come through this stronger.
I am so grateful that so much of my business was already online before this, and that I have a very loyal and understanding client base. My motto a few weeks ago was keep calm and crack on but now it has changed a little bit, and so now it’s keep calm, take stock and move forward with grace.
Never have we lived through a time of so much change and uncertainty on such a global scale, with social media and technology being a blessing and a curse in equal measure.
We are all in different situations with our lives, our families, and our businesses and it is that diversity that makes the business world so special but it also means in these difficult times that we need to be just a tad kinder to each other, a little less judgemental, and take an extra breath before responding with our take on things.
Some people will be at absolute breaking point, and our message can be hurtful and triggering even when we don’t mean them to. Remind people of where the unsubscribe and unfollow buttons are. Ask permission before pitching. Don’t assume that everyone wants what you are selling…or that they don’t. Don;t assume that your free things is the answer to everyones prayers, when in fact it could just be adding to the noise, or having folks who charge for such thing stressing that they have nothing left of value to offer any more.
Be quiet when you need to
Speak up when its important that you do so.
For many of us Freedom is one of our significant values, and many of our freedoms have been taken away.
focus on the things you still have choice over, the things you can still make decisions on, the opportunities to serve, to create, to take a breath, to stop all together if that feels good.
Our only job right now is to stay well, and to help others stay well too.
Julie Creffield is a serial entrepreneur and master tribe builder from Stratford, East London. She is currently homeschooling her 7 year old daughter Rose, and managing a new kitten Tom while running her two online businesses.
You can also see her in action as a business strategist and coach in A Grand in Your Hand, a 10 day fast-paced and value-packedmini-course to get you selling with less sleaze and more ease, which starts on the 17th April and costs just £49